The Sony 35mm 1.4 is the highest end 35mm money can buy. It has a lot of fancy features but is also a little heavy and much more expensive than the other 35’s. Let’s dig into why this Sony 35mm has earned its G Master Badge, and I’ll tell you what I think at the end.
First up, the Sony 35mm 1.4 G Master costs $1400 USD and weighs 1.2 lbs. It’s 3 inches x 3.8 inches, not huge but still pretty large for a mirrorless prime lens.
The Build quality is your typical G Master lens with dust and moisture sealing, 11 aperture blades, a 67mm front filter thread. The body of the lens has a customizable button, auto focus/manual focus toggle and an aperture ring that can be clicked or declicked. The aperture ring is solid and I haven't accidentally bumped it out of place.
One of the biggest strengths of this lens is the fast and accurate autofocus. Two linear XD motors power the 35mm GM, and they can accurately hold focus on subjects with either tracking autofocus or even better, the eye autofocus. The Eye AF with the Sony A7S III and A7 IV have been great and were able to lock onto eyes and keep a consistent focus, even at f 1.4.
For noise, there is no autofocus or manual focus noise when adjusting the focus on this lens. Not surprising given its price tag, but I like to include this in my lens reviews.
Since this is a G Master lens, this benefits from the additional element and Nano coating that minimizes the flares that are picked up on this lens. This is a common struggle of cheaper lenses, if you’re shooting your subject backlit with this lens, there will be minimal flaring and this is one of the strengths of the G Master lenses. Interestingly enough, when the lens is at about 45 degrees from a light source, there is some light leak happening. This test footage was with the lens hood off, but putting on the lens hood will remove this flare. Sometimes this can add some extra character to your photos, which is kind of rare on modern Sony lenses. If you don’t want this flare, using the lens hood removed this.
The additional glass and coatings in the Sony 35mm 1.4 manages to reduce chromatic aberration and distortion. There is still some color fringing if you zoom in, but overall it’s well controlled. If you’re zooming in you’ll be able to see it, but for subjects that are silhouetted against a bright background, the color fringing isn't distracting in my opinion.
The bokeh on the Sony 35mm 1.4 has little to no distracting texture in the center and is round. Moving out to the edges of the lens, the bokeh gets a little more distorted and textured if you’re really looking closely, but this is the best bokeh on a modern sony lens I’ve seen. As it should be with that GM price tag.
The 35mm G Master is sharp in the center, even wide open at 1.4. The edges are a little soft with vignetting wide open, but by f/2 the vignetting is gone and the corners are sharper. This is pretty common for such a wide-aperture lens, but the vignetting and soft corners aren't distracting. And at 1.4, you’ll probably have a shallow enough depth of field to not even notice in most photos or videos.
The minimum focusing distance is 9.8 inches away from the sensor. So for this lens, it’s 6 inches away from the front of the lens which has been great for getting close up details and taking full advantage of the background bokeh.
One major downside of the 35mm G Master is the focus breathing while shooting video. This lens is compatible with Sony’s lens breathing compensation that is being rolled out to modern Sony cameras, but there will be a slight crop while using this. If you’re not using the compensation, you’ll likely notice the focus breathing if you're shooting at wide apertures and moving closer and farther away from the camera. This is my main gripe of the 35mm GM, as it shouldn't have this issue in such an expensive lens in my opinion. The focus breathing compensation takes care of this, but with a slight crop to your image.
The Sony 35mm 1.4 has no optical steady shot, but you can use your Sony’s body's stabilization if your camera body supports it.
The Sony 35mm 1.4 is one most premium Sony 35mm lens available. It has a lot of very strong features that you would associate a G Master lens with, great build and image quality. Very reliable autofocus, clean bokeh. Chromatic aberration and flare control, but it does have some pretty problematic focus breathing issues. Modern sony cameras can get around this with focus breathing compensation and a slight crop, but for a $1400 lens, I’d love to see the version 2 of this lens not have this issue.
I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr/Instagram were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.
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